Whatever Became of Jesus’s 12 Disciples?


If you’re familiar with the Bible, you know the fate of Christ after his crucifixion and resurrection, but what about the twelve disciples who followed him?

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The original recipients of the Great Commission are shrouded in a bit of mystery in the Bible itself. With the exception of Judas Iscariot, whose fate is well documented after his betrayal of Christ, only James the Greater’s death is shared in the Good Book. Here’s what happened to the other ten apostles who shared Jesus’s life and message, according to myth, legend and apocryphal tales.

  1. Simon – According to popular belief, Simon began to minister to the people of Persia after Christ’s resurrection. There, he would eventually be executed for refusal to make a sacrifice to the sun god worshiped by the Persian people.
  2. James, son of Alpheus – With three men named “James” mentioned in the New Testament and one disciple sharing his name, James, son of Alpheus is something of a mystery. As a result of this confusion and the amount of time that’s passed, it’s assumed this James was a witness for Jesus in the Syrian region. According to Josephus, a Jewish historian, James was there stoned and clubbed to death.
  3. John – The only apostle who is widely regarded to have lived into old age and died of natural causes, John was said to have spent his life caring for Mary, mother of Christ and leading a congregation in Ephesus. He later wrote the Book of Revelation on the island of Patmos, where he was exiled during a persecution of Christians.
  4. Bartholomew – History and legend names Bartholomew one of the most traveled disciples of Christ, witnessing in Southern Arabia, Ethiopia, India and Armenia. While there are several conflicting accounts of his death, all agree he was a martyr to the faith.
  5. Matthew – Before becoming a follower of Christ, Matthew was a tax collector before the crucifixion. After the resurrection, he traveled throughout Ethiopia and Persia to spread the Good News. Legend has it he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia, though there is some dispute about whether or not he was martyred.
  6. Philip – Ministering to the people of northern Africa and Asia Minor, Philip was successful in converting the wife of a Roman proconsul to Christianity. As punishment for what this proconsul perceived as a transgression, he was then arrested and sentenced to death for his faith.
  7. Paul – Historical accounts indicate Paul was martyred in Rome around 66 AD by beheading.
  8. Peter – Also around 66 AD in Rome, Peter was put to death by the Roman empire. Unlike Paul, he was not beheaded; he was crucified. Since he did not feel worthy of dying in the same manner as Christ, he requested to be put to death on the cross upside-down. According to legend, this request was honored.
  9. Andrew – Serving predominately in the area formerly known as the Soviet Union, Andrew is credited with bringing Christianity to the Russian people. Also preaching in Turkey and Greece, Andrew was reportedly killed by crucifixion in Greece.
  10. Thomas – Known to Bible scholars as “Doubting” Thomas, this particular apostle apparently made up for his reluctance to believe by ministering in India and Syria. He’s honored in India as the founder of Marthoma Christianity, and is said to have died there at the hands of four soldiers who stabbed him with their spears.

Because these lives aren’t chronicled in any detail in the Bible, it’s not actual gospel and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. However they lived and died after Christ’s resurrection, though, it’s safe to say they accomplished much in the name of the Great Commission. After all, the message of Jesus has been spread to all corners of the globe and has become one of the world’s most widely followed religions.

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